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Aetna U.S. Heathcare this week puts its money where its mouse is. The health benefits provider launches a $30 million campaign today to promote its Web site.

The effort, from McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C., is dubbed "e.Health." The campaign is designed to inform Aetna's consumer and physician customers about its information services, drive traffic to the Web site (www.aetnaushc.

com) and convey the image that Aetna is at the forefront of an increasingly Internet-driven society.


On a broader scale, the campaign is part of an evolution at the managed-care and insurance giant toward e-business. The initiative encompasses everything from reducing paperwork to speeding up physician payments.

On the consumer side, it puts an emphasis on the Web site where Aetna is hoping consumers will go for information that may keep them healthier and out of both doctors' and Aetna's claim offices.

Aetna also views the Web site as a public relations and consumer interface vehicle that might help soften its image in the increasingly under-fire managed-care industry.

"We need an opportunity to be able to tell our story," said David Murphy, Aetna's head of advertising, promotion and design. "There's always going to be negative press on managed care. We've grown to believe that being No. 1 in the category makes us the No. 1 target."


National cable and spot TV commercials feature a series of vignettes that focus on specific ailments or medical needs. In one ad, a cursor clicks on an overzealous Little League coach. It then scrolls down a menu box -- past hepatitis, hernia, herpes -- until it clicks on high blood pressure. This continues throughout the spot, with the menu pulling up various terms related to the spot's disparate characters.


Print advertising, which will run in newspapers and magazines, uses a computer mouse to represent different medical conditions. An ad for cholesterol information, for example, shows a clogged-arterylike lump in the wire leading to the mouse. The ad for stress reduction tips shows the wire all tied up in knots.

Outdoor, including blanketing the inside of a New York subway car, will also be used. Spot TV will run in 19 markets. The company opted this year to move away from national TV to focus on markets where it has the bulk of its customer base.

Aetna becomes the latest company aiming to steer people to a health-oriented Web site via a major ad push. Both OnHealth Network Co. and WebMd launched $20 million-plus campaigns earlier this year, while recently selected its first agency.

Mr. Murphy said Aetna did not set out to develop a campaign around its Web site, but that emerged as "we were looking at where we see consumers evolving in the healthcare category."

McKinney Executive Creative Director David Baldwin said the agency was looking to tackle relevant issues, such as stress reduction and better sleep tips, in the Aetna advertising as well as burnish the company's image as Internet-savvy.


"The campaign [is designed] to take a company like Aetna U.S. Healthcare, an established brand, and communicate that they're a progressive company," said Mr. Baldwin. "They are ushering in the next age of healthcare."

The Aetna Web site supplies medical information -- provided by InteliHealth (, a joint venture between the company and Johns Hopkins University -- as well as customer services, including online physician directories and electronic referrals.

"This is all about providing more information and control to the consumer," said Mr. Baldwin. "Consumers are really hungry for more control. Information is

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